Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Wok Wednesdays | Stir-Fried Baby Bok Choy with Sichuan Pepper and Salt

WW wokking through Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge
by Grace Young


 Such a simple and beautiful stir-fry.

 Baby bok choy.

Shanghai baby bok choy (source).

Shanghai baby bok choy is most commonly found in our grocery stores. It has smoother, lighter green leaves and pale green stalks. The bok choy I used, I found at my local Asian market.  Either variant will work in this stir-fry.

 Mise en place.

Bowl 1: Ginger
Bowl 2: Carrot
Bowl 3: Baby bok choy
Bowl 4: Salt, Sichuan peppercorn
Bowl 5: Chicken broth, dry sherry, cornstarch

This stir-fry takes all about three minutes (if that) to cook; stir-frying continues to amaze me.

The ginger slices are sautéed first, then the carrots are added and given a quick swirl around the wok. Next up is the bok choy, salt and peppercorns, these are stir-fried for about a minute before the broth is swirled in and the mixture briefly steamed, and I do mean briefly - for a whole thirty seconds! Then the vegetables are stir-fried for a short time more - just until the bok choy is crisp-tender. And there you have it!



I actually made this twice. The first time I found it too oily. I should have went with my instinct to not add the remaining oil at the time the bok choy went in. My wok still had a good sheen of oil going on at this point.

The second round, the wok started to look a bit dry shortly before the bok choy was ready, so I added a few sprinkles of oil (maybe a teaspoon?) at that time. Much better result for me.

This recipe can be found on page 189 of Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge.


 
We as a group have agreed not to post the recipes on our blogs. 

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Wok Wednesdays | Stir-Fried Eggs with Velvet Shrimp

WW wokking through Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge
by Grace Young




My original plan was to make this for breakfast; but who am I fooling - there is no time in the am for the whole photo shoot bit. So dinner it was! And just as well, for Andy said he would not want this for breakfast. Me, I would; and I just may make it again for my breakfast the next time he is out of town.

Mise en place.

Bowl 1: Ginger, scallion
Bowl 2: Shrimp, egg white, cornstarch, dry sherry, salt, oil
Bowl 3: Peas
Bowl 4: Egg, dry sherry, salt, white pepper

I love a good stir-fry that uses minimal dishes and cooks in under three minutes! (Take note: there is half an hour of hands-free time for the shrimp to marinate (refrigerated), and to come to room temperature.)



I should have let my shrimp cook a little longer before adding the egg mixture. My eggs were not as creamy as they should have been because I was concerned the shrimp was not cooked all the way through, and cooked them a bit longer than instructed. The eggs were delicious anyhow - loved the flavor the white pepper and dry sherry lent to the eggs - I'm going to have to add these two ingredients to my normal scrambled eggs from now on - so good.


I was a bit concerned this was not going to be enough for the two of us, being there is only a quarter-pound of shrimp being used. In the end it turned out to be the perfect amount served alongside some jasmine rice.


The recipe can be found on page 127 of Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge, and I also found it over on Cookistry's website.


 

We as a group have agreed not to post the recipes on our blogs. 

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Wok Wednesdays | Stir-Fried Edamame with Pickled Cucumbers

WW wokking through Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge
by Grace Young




Soybeans . . .  considered to be one of the five sacred grains of China; featured here in a most delicious side-dish. The recipe, courtesy of the influential Florence Lin, cookbook author and former teacher in Chinese cooking.

 Mise en place.

Bowl 1: Ginger
Bowl 2: Edamame
Bowl 3: Pickled cucumber
Bowl 4: Chicken broth
Bowl 5: Salt

The ginger gets a quick stir around the wok, then the edamame is added and stir-fried for a minute or two, at which time the cucumber is added and continues to cook for a short time more. Next the broth and salt are added and everything is mixed together until combined.

(For the complete recipe, see page 234 of Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge.)


This recipe uses Chinese pickled cucumber - different from our Western-style pickles; these are cucumbers that have been pickled in a mixture of sugar, water, soy sauce, and monosodium glutamate (MSG) - depending on the brand, you may be able to find it without the MSG.

If you do not have access to the Chinese pickled cucumber, Florence says you can sub in the Western pickle, as long as it was not pickled in vinegar - and Grace, she will toss them in some soy sauce and sugar to help replicate the flavor of the Chinese version.



This effortless and tasty stir-fry comes together in mere minutes. I loved the deep, slightly spicy flavor and crunch of the pickled cucumbers, which made a nice contrast to the sweet, tender edamame. Grace mentions in the book that this can be served hot, room temp, or chilled - me, I preferred it straight from the wok, though chilled was good too.

Thank you Grace and Florence for such a delicious recipe! This will be one I hope to repeat time and time again; and I'm off to a good start - for I have already made it once more - for my lunch the following day.

If you are interested, here is a lovely article with Florence Lin and Cecelia Chiang (another grande dame in Chinese cooking).


The recipe can be found on page 234 of Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge, by Grace Young.

 

We as a group have agreed not to post the recipes on our blogs. 


Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Wok Wednesdays | Chicken Chow Fun

WW wokking through Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge
by Grace Young


 

I had way better success with this recipe than I did when I made the Beef Chow Fun, where I had unfavorable results with the noodles. It certainly helps to have the right stuff. :)

 Mise en place.

Bowl 1: Salt
Bowl 2: Fresh rice noodles
Bowl 3: Ginger, garlic
Bowl 4: Chicken, garlic, ginger, dry sherry, oyster sauce, soy sauce, cornstarch, pepper
Bowl 5: Dry sherry
Bowl 6: Bok choy, shiitake mushrooms
Bowl 7: Chicken broth, sesame oil, oyster sauce, soy sauce, cornstarch

The recipe calls for a one pound sheet of rice noodles to be cut into half-inch-wide strips.  I was fortunate enough to find them pre-cut.

The noodles are stir-fried in salted oil - salt that is added to the oil in the wok - this disperses the salt more evenly than if you sprinkled it over the noodles, says Raymond Leong who taught Grace this recipe; as well as requiring less salt by doing it this way, according to Joyce Jue, a Southeast Asian chef.

The noodles are cooked just until they achieve a crusty layer, then they are removed from the wok and set aside while the rest of the ingredients are stir-fried.


The noodles can be plated and topped with the vegetable mixture as Mr Leong does, or as I did - adding the noodles back to the wok and mixing all together; this way all the noodles are sure to get coated with some of the sauce.



This recipe can be found on page 277 of Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge, by Grace Young.


 

We as a group have agreed not to post the recipes on our blogs. 


 

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Wok Wednesdays | Stir-Fried Squid with Black Bean Sauce

WW wokking through Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge
by Grace Young


I'm beginning to think I need to change the title of my blog to Wok This Way or something, for the last ten posts have been a WW recipe. One day I'll get back to cooking from the many cookbooks that I own. Maybe.




There is an ongoing joke amongst the WW members about snow peas. This is the second recipe from Chef Danny Chan where he has specified an exact amount of snow peas to use (twelve for this recipe), rather than by weight.

Using extra snow peas (as I have done here, and I know your counting them Bob - to clarify, I halved the recipe) or deviating from a recipe in other ways, has earned a member or two (or three), the chastening of wearing their wok on their heads, and the embarrassment (or not) of posting a photo of such on our group FB page.

 (photo used with permission )

The above photo reflects the punishment for a dried chili infraction; though he has also been placed on probation for a snow pea violation.

I'm thankful Danny did not make us count out the frozen peas he uses in his Hong-Kong-Style Silky Stir-Fried Minced Beef recipe. They're may have been even more of us wearing the wok!

 Mise en place.

Bowl 1: Garlic, scallion, fermented black beans
Bowl 2: Onion, ginger
Bowl 3: Red bell pepper
Bowl 4: Salt, pepper
Bowl 5: Dry sherry
Bowl 6: Squid (blanched), snow peas
Bowl 7: Chicken broth, oyster sauce, soy sauce, dark soy sauce
Bowl 8: Sesame oil, cornstarch, chicken broth

The blanched squid.

I think I like cooking squid more than I like eating it. It becomes so artistic looking after its bath.



Here is a photo from an older post - showing what cleaned squid looks like, before prepping it for a stir-fry.


You need to set aside a little extra time to prepare the squid for stir-frying. If you are unable to get pre-cleaned squid as I did, here is a great tutorial on Food52 on how to clean it yourself.

After the squid has been cleaned, the tentacles are cut into bite-size pieces (I just left them whole, myself), and the bodies are cut in half lengthwise and gently scored with a crosshatch pattern on the inside, then cut into 1 1/2-inch squares. The squid is quickly parboiled for ten seconds, just until it curls; now it's ready for stir-frying.

Once the squid is prepped, this stir-fry is quick to get on the table. The beans, scallion and garlic are added to the wok first and stir-fried just until fragrant. Add the ginger and onions, stir until the onions start to wilt, then the bell pepper, and s&p is added and cooked until they start to soften. The rice wine is added and stirred in, then the squid, snow peas, and soy sauce mixture is added and tossed until the peas turn bright green. Swirl in the cornstarch mixture and stir until the squid is just cooked.

Be careful as to not overcook the squid, for it can become tough if you do. 



This was enjoyed by other members of our group, though not so much by me; sorry, Grace (said with a scrunched face). The squid came out tender, and I loved the texture of the vegetables; the flavor just did not wow me - which surprised me, for I love the taste that fermented black beans lend to a dish (as in the Stir-fried Chicken with Black Bean Sauce), and the sauce components... broth, oyster sauce, soy sauce, sesame oil - and garlic and ginger! I don't understand... maybe my taste buds were off this evening; or even it could have been the fact I hadn't tasted it until after it was reheated. I made it early on (an hour or so) for the best possible lighting. I reheated it ever so gently in the wok, as to not overcook the squid - I'm guessing that may have had an effect on the taste.

As I said, this was enjoyed by others in our group - if you would like to give it a go yourself, the recipe can be found at  The Global Gourmet or on page 170 of Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge, by Grace Young.

I think we have only eight more recipes before we are done wokking our way through Sky. But stay tuned, for there's talk about moving on with one of Grace's other books. So you can still join in on the fun ~ it's quite the lively bunch over at Wok Wednesdays.



 

We as a group have agreed not to post the recipes on our blogs.



Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Wok Wednesdays | Yangchow Fried Rice

WW wokking through Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge
by Grace Young



This is my new favorite. Unbelievably simple, healthy, and delicious! 

Mise en place.

Bowl 1: Shrimp
Bowl 2: Rice, peas
Bowl 3: Ham, scallions
Bowl 4: Salt, white pepper


I was skeptical while making this stir-fry - with no seasonings other than salt and white pepper - and as hard as it was, I did refrain from adding that little bit of garlic, and soy sauce that is typical of fried rice recipes. 

This took me by surprise - it really was full of flavor - no other seasonings are needed, and the white pepper added the perfect amount of heat. No wonder in China, Yangchow fried rice is prized for its clean and fresh flavors (perfect description btw). I have said before, simple can be best, and it rings true with this recipe.



This was so simple to prepare: the shrimp is stir-fried in a small amount of oil just until it turns color, add a little more oil, and the rice and peas, stir until heated through, throw in the ham, scallions, and seasonings, mix all together, and it's done. A most delicious meal in mere minutes.

This also would be utterly delicious made Catonese style, with Chinese barbecued pork in place of the ham. 

Do give this recipe a try; you'll be missing out if you don't.

We as a group do not post the recipes on our blogs, but lucky for you, the recipe is published on Fine Cooking's website, and of course, you can always find it on page 259 of Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge, by Grace Young.




Friday, April 8, 2016

Wok Wednesdays | Chinese Jamaican Stir-Fried Chicken with Chayote

WW wokking through Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge
by Grace Young



A most delicious stir-fry! Served with rice, you have yourself a complete meal. 

The recipe calls for two not so ordinary ingredients: Pickapeppa Sauce and Chayote (pronounced Chahy-oh-tee or Chī'ōdē) squash, which also goes by the names of vegetable pear, christophene, chocho and mirlton. Depending on what article you read, it is either a fruit or vegetable. I'm sticking with fruit.

 Mise en place.

Bowl 1: Chicken, dark soy sauce, garlic, cornstarch, salt, oil
Bowl 2: Onions
Bowl 3: Salt
Bowl 4: Chayote
Bowl 5: Water
Bowl 6: Pickapeppa Sauce, ketchup
Bowl 7: Salt

This stir-fry begins by adding the chicken to the wok first, which is allowed to sear and stir-fried briefly before it is removed from the wok (to be added back in later). Oil is added to the wok with a bit of salt and the chayote - this is stir-fried for a short time, and then some water is added, the wok is covered for about five seconds, uncovered, stirred, and covered again until the chayote is crisp-tender. The chicken is added back in along with the sauce mixture and a bit more salt, and stir-fried just until the chicken is cooked through. Yep, that simple.

Chayote

I have purchased chayote at my local grocery in the past, however, this time, I had to make a trip to 99 Ranch, my local Asian market. If you can't find chayote, you could substitute zucchini; though I may skip or shorten the time of the steaming portion of the recipe, for zucchini is pretty tender from the start, whereas chayote is crisp like an apple, as I prefer my vegetables on the firmer side.

I found it easier to peel the chayote after slicing it in half and giving it a quick rinse with water (it can be slippery); I was able to get a better grip on it, and also able to get to more of the skin in the creases at the top.
                           
(source)

The Pickapeppa Sauce (aka Jamaican ketchup), I did not even check my local markets for, and went straight to World Market, knowing I had seen it there before. Other members mentioned they did find it at their Safeway and Ralphs supermarkets - so maybe it is not so uncommon after all.

This sauce tasted to me, a lot like A-1 steak sauce with a dose of vinegar. However, mixed with ketchup and stir-fried along with the other ingredients, it had a totally different flavor - nothing at all like steak sauce.



Andy said this was another A+ meal; and on his second helping he voiced "this is way good.."

It is said that the seed of the chayote is a delicacy in Mexico. So of course I had to give it a try. The seed was very tender, with a "green" flavor, almost grass-like; it was just OK - not something I would have a hankering for in the future.

(Update: to clarify, I ate the seed raw, Grace informed me that it should be cooked.)


I did have an extra chayote that I used for making this raw, light, crisp salad for my lunch. I came across a recipe on Canadian Living, that used a very simple citrus (lime) vinaigrette to toss partially cooked chayote in, along with some cilantro. I chose not to boil the chayote, and just sliced it very thin with a mandoline. Raw chayote is crisp like an apple, with a very mild flavor - similar to a cucumber, sans the sweetness.

Check out the following links for more information on this interesting fruit:


We have been asked not to post the recipes here on our blog. You will find the recipe on page 133 of  Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge, which you can purchase at your local bookstore or find at your local library.  





Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Wok Wednesdays | Stir-Fried Bagels with Cabbage and Bacon

WW wokking through Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge
by Grace Young




Yep, you read that correctly - b a g e l s.  The recipe calls for your standard plain Jewish bagel to be made into a delicious Chinese stir-fry. Crazy as it sounds, it works!


The recipe comes from Lejen Chen, of Mrs. Shanen's in Beijing. The original recipe is normally made with laobing, a type of Chinese flatbread. Lejen, having extra bagels on hand, decided to try it with bagels instead, and I thank her, for I'm sure the laobing would be hard to come by for me, if not downright impossible.

Mise en place.

Bowl 1: Ginger, Sichuan peppercorns, dried chili pepper
Bowl 2: Bacon
Bowl 3: Garlic
Bowl 4: Cabbage
Bowl 5: Soy sauce, rice vinegar
Bowl 6: Bagels
Bowl 7: Salt

The contents of bowl one are first stir-fried in a little oil to bring out their flavor, then the bacon is added and cooked just until it begins to crisp up a bit, then the garlic is added (the fat from the bacon is not thrown out! This is what helps flavor the dish), then the cabbage (which I would have liked more of), which is cooked just until it starts to wilt, at which time the soy sauce mixture and bagels go in, the wok is covered for a short time to soften the bagels (mine were extremely fresh - pillow soft, and I could have probably skipped this part), then a little salt is sprinkled in and tossed to combine. Voila! You now have an interesting and tasty side dish. 

I was thinking this would be good for breakfast too, served alongside or topped with a poached egg. I don't see why you couldn't prep everything the evening before so it's ready to go when you are. If you feel your bagels are too dry, just sprinkle some water over them before covering the wok.


Think of this as a deconstructed BLT sandwich - minus the T; though you could add some halved cherry tomatoes if you like - I wouldn't tell. :)

We have been asked not to post the recipes here on our blog. You will find the recipe on page 255 of  Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge, which you can purchase at your local bookstore or find at your local library.  The recipe just so happens to be available here as well. :)







Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Wok Wednesdays | Stir-Fried Chicken with Black Bean Sauce

WW wokking through Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge
by Grace Young





The black bean sauce in this recipe is not made with your typical black beans (think Latin cuisine), but with fermented black beans (aka douchi or salted black beans) which are actually black soybeans that have been fermented and preserved in salt. You will find these beans at your local Chinese or Asian grocery. 

The beans have a musky scent, and an earthy, oaky, raisiny (without the sweetness) flavor, not to mention salty, which you can rinse the beans to remove some of the saltiness as we did for this recipe.

Mise en place.

Bowl 1:  Red onion, red pepper flakes
Bowl 2:  Chicken, cornstarch, dry sherry, soy sauce, salt
Bowl 3:  Carrots
Bowl 4:  Fermented black beans, garlic, ginger, dark soy sauce
Bowl 5:  Chicken broth, dry sherry
Bowl 6:  Salt
Bowl 7:  Scallion


As I was consuming this wonderful meal (I served this with jasmine rice and steamed zucchini), I thought how comforting this is. It's one you'll want to have in your repertoire, filed under comfort foods.  

Next time I make this, I'm going to toss in a few whole fermented beans as well, and up the red pepper flakes for I do like my food on the spicier side.

The recipe can be found here, but I highly recommend you get the book - the recipes are fabulous.



We have been asked not to post the recipes here on our blog. You will find the recipe on page 137 of  Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge, which you can purchase at your local bookstore or find it at your local library. 






Saturday, February 27, 2016

Wok Wednesdays | Doubly Delicious: Stir-Fried Crystal Shrimp & Stir-Fried Garlic Shanghai Bok Choy

WW wokking through Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge
by Grace Young




I'm really behind in making of the recipes and posting for Wok Wednesdays this month. The shrimp dish was due back on the tenth, and the bok choy on the twenty-fourth, so I made them the same evening - hence this Doubly Delicious post!

Stir-Fried Crystal Shrimp:


This dish gets its name, Crystal Shrimp, by "washing" the shrimp in salt a couple of times before it is marinated in egg white and cornstarch, also known as velveting. This technique Grace says, gives the shrimp a crisp, crystal-like texture that the Chinese revere.

Mise en place.

Bowl 1: Scallions, ginger
Bowl 2: Shrimp, egg white, cornstarch (Oops.. this is the position for the shrimp after boiling.)
Bowl 3: Peas
Bowl 4: Salt
Bowl 5: Chicken broth, dry sherry, cornstarch, white pepper

Before the actual stir-frying begins, the shrimp, after marinating for an hour, gets a quick simmer in oiled water just until they start to turn color.

The ginger and scallions are stir-fried just until fragrant, at which time the partially cooked shrimp (which have been drained well) are added along with the remaining ingredients and stir-fried until the shrimp are cooked through and are covered in a silky sauce.

I know I have said this before, but it just amazes me how delicious these meals turn out with so few ingredients, namely the seasonings in this recipe. Do buy the freshest shrimp you can find - it will make a difference.

Lucky for all you readers! This recipe is available on-line if you don't have the book yet. You gotta get the book!! And for those that do have it, you'll find it on page 160.

Surf & Turf!

May be hard to believe, as delicious as the shrimp is, we did have leftovers! I had served the shrimp with rice and the following bok choy recipe which made plenty to go around; the leftover shrimp was a great accompaniment to our dinner the next evening.

Stir-Fried Garlic Shanghai Bok Choy:

Mise en place.

Bowl 1: Garlic
Bowl 2: Bok choy
Bowl 3: Salt, sugar
Bowl 4: Chicken broth, dry sherry, soy sauce, cornstarch


Did you know the proper name for baby bok choy is Shanghai bok choy? Neither did I until I did an internet search, wondering if I was even going to be able to find it. Happy to discover that everything I needed for this recipe (as well as the shrimp recipe) could be found at my local market. Love it when that is the case!


This was  a  m  a  z  i  n  g !  With just a few ingredients, it was big on flavor. This is one recipe you'll want to put into regular rotation.


So simple to make - I know, I sound like a broken record! All the recipes in this book have been easy, some a tad more involved than others, but still easy, and delicious!! And this is one that can't really be any simpler.

After a quick sauté of the garlic, the chopped bok choy is added to the wok, along with a little salt and sugar and stir-fried for a minute or so, then the broth mixture is added, and everything is stir-fried just until the bok choy is left with a slight crunch to it; crisp-tender, as the pros say.



These two recipes together made for a most wonderful meal. You'll want to serve it with some rice as I did (I went with jasmine rice), for the bok choy has a good amount of sauce that was delicious spooned over the rice.


We have been asked not to post the recipes here on our blog. You will find them on pages 160 and 220 respectively, of  Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge, which you can purchase at your local bookstore or find it at your local library. I highly recommend purchasing the book - you won't be disappointed.